What Are the Differences between a Passport Cards and Passports

Many wonder if there are differences between passport cards and passports. Passports are documents that provide travel authorization to people around the world. The passport is issued by the government and certifies the person’s identity and nationality. A passport is necessary for U.S. citizens who travel abroad, as well as to other countries in North America.  A passport card is more limited in its use and is intended for travel only in certain circumstances.

Understanding the Passport Card

A passport card is similar to a passport, but has a limited use. A passport card is for use only for travel by land or sea from the United States to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The card is designed for those who intend to have limited travel to only these areas. It is important to note that a regular passport is required if traveling by air. An advantage of the passport card is that it is less expensive to obtain.

Obtaining a United States Passport

A U.S. passport is necessary for travel outside of the country. A passport application must be submitted and approved before a passport is issued. The applicant must submit the application, along with the appropriate fee and passport photos. You must provide a certified copy of your birth certificate and a copy of your driver’s license or state ID along with your application. The application must be filled out completely. The failure to do so could cause a delay in processing.

Important Information about Passports and Passport Cards

A passport or passport card application may take 6 weeks or longer to process. In some cases, the wait period is even longer. Therefore, it is best to apply for a passport as far in advance of your travel as possible. Expedited processing is available for an additional fee. Passports are valid for a period of ten years and may be renewed. A passport card is often considered acceptable identification for entrance to restricted access areas where a state-issued ID is not sufficient.

A passport card is a less expensive option for those who intend to travel domestically. The passport is more comprehensive and is intended for use when traveling outside the continent. Passports and visas are often complicated and you may have many questions about them. Get the answers you need by consulting with an experienced immigration attorney. Call the legal team at Udall Shumway PLC to schedule a consultation today.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Passport Cards and Passports, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at 480.461.5330, log on to udallshumway.com,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.